Amidst talks of budgets, cuts and furloughs, the latest financial announcement from University Advancement may be a welcome change. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, Cal State East Bay received more than $2.75 million in donations and grants from alumni, corporations, foundations and others, an increase of more than $1.2 million from the previous fiscal year.
Bob Burt, vice president of University Advancement, said “This kind of growth in philanthropy would be great news for us in any year, but it’s especially good news in this economic climate. It shows that the university is moving in the right strategic direction, and that our supporters and friends want to help sustain our momentum.”
Student fees and state funding are intended to cover the university’s operating costs. But private donations provide a “margin of excellence,” Burt said, which allows Cal State East Bay to augment financial aid with privately funded scholarships, build programs, and capitalize on new opportunities.
About 15 percent of private support, a total of $424,000, was received in gifts of less than $10,000. In addition to donations targeted for specific uses, such as scholarships, donors gave nearly $370,000 to the campus Leadership Funds, unrestricted funds that colleges, departments and programs across campus can use to support their high and immediate priorities.
The Annual Fund campaign accounted for the largest number of donors, more than 2,000. Of those, close to 75 percent are CSUEB alumni, and the average gift to the Annual Fund campaign was approximately $190. Many contributions also came from first-time donors, said Trish Davenport, director of annual giving.
“The university has made remarkable progress over the past several years, but as with any grassroots effort, it can’t reach full potential without assistance from the community,” Davenport said. “This is especially true now, when state support for higher education is being cut. We’re fortunate that our alumni are not only demonstrating a growing affinity for the institution, but also understand the tremendous difference that their shared collective giving can make in the lives and futures of today’s students and tomorrow’s graduates.”
Donors who give $1,000 or more become members of the President’s Circle, an honorary group recognized each year at special events and functions. This year there were 68 donors at that level; 21 donors gave $10,000 or more.
Giving totals also include contributions to the university’s endowment, currently valued at $7 million, which is invested to return growth and earnings distributions. This income then goes to support programs as agreed upon with individual donors.
“The endowment is a major source of scholarship support. Almost 60 percent of the endowment supports scholarships that help our students achieve the dream of a college education, so its long term health is critically important,” Burt said.
Cal State East Bay’s endowment, like many investments in the past year, lost value during the year, Burt said, but it recovered all but 13 percent of its initial value by June 30. By contrast, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index posted a 26 percent loss for the same period, he added.
Corporate and foundation grants and donations brought in more than $1.1 million to support academic, social and cultural programs at Cal State East Bay. Some of these grants will enable the university to partner with regional organizations, such as the Alameda County Office of Education and local community colleges, to implement math, science or college pathway programs.
Total private support surpassed the previous year’s numbers, Burt said, thanks in part to gifts from foundations and a significant increase in testamentary commitments, or bequest intentions. The university received five new commitments from individuals who included Cal State East Bay in their wills and estate plans.
These commitments are valued at $980,000, more than six times the value of such commitments reported in 2007-08. And although the money from these commitments cannot be put to use yet, there is still a positive impact, according to Anthony Macias, director of planned giving.
“This level of support during a world-wide economic downturn underscores the generosity of our donors and their faith and dedication to the future of Cal State East Bay,” Macias said.
Many of the testamentary commitments are from alumni and former faculty or staff members. In May, President Qayoumi recognized planned gifts and testamentary commitments at a tea for the Heritage Society, the honorary group for individuals who have made planned gifts. [Read the news story.]
Other highlights for University Advancement this year included completion of a redesigned Web site, which includes an online giving tool linked to the university-wide donor database system, and planning for the university’s first comprehensive campaign.
Oliver Ramsey, associate vice president and campaign director for University Advancement, said “These accomplishments represent a lot of hard work from the University Advancement staff, building relationships with people on and off campus to bring donors together with the people and programs who benefit from their support.”
An honor roll of donors will be published in the Fall 2009 issue of Cal State East Bay Magazine, including the names of all individuals and organizations that made gifts of more than $100.